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closer to fullToday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a set of criteria it would use to review clemency applications as part of its initiative to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to rolling back draconian sentencing policies in the U.S. Those six criteria are, according to a DOJ statement:

  • They are currently serving a federal sentence in prison and, by operation of law, likely would have received a substantially lower sentence if convicted of the same offense(s) today;
  • They are non-violent, low-level offenders without significant ties to large scale criminal organizations, gangs or cartels;
  • They have served at least 10 years of their prison sentence;
  • They do not have a significant criminal history;
  • They have demonstrated good conduct in prison; and
  • They have no history of violence prior to or during their current term of imprisonment.

The announcement was welcomed by civil libertarians interested in sentencing reform. The general counsel for Families Against Mandatory Minimums said it signaled a "truly welcome change" to the "the culture of 'no' that has dominated" the Office of the Pardon Attorney. The president used his clemency power earlier this month to bring his total commutations since taking office to ten, a slower rate than any modern president but the last three Republicans (Reagan and the Bushes).

Attorney General Eric Holder announced in the fifth year of the Obama Administration that it would finally be doing some thinking about sentencing reforms for the criminal justice system. In March, Holder announced the DOJ's intention to lower the federal prison population by 6,500 over the next five years. As Matthew Feeney noted at the time:

The United States, which makes up roughly 5 percent of the world's population, houses about 25 percent of the world's prisoners.

The federal prison system currently has around 216,000 prisoners, a little more than 40 percent of whom are behind bars for for drug offences…

As appalling as the U.S. prison population and drug policies are, the prison population in the U.S. has been falling since 2009

Jacob Sullum noted in March that despite the narrative presented by outlets like The New York Times, libertarian-leaning Republican legislators like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) were certainly leading on sentencing reform as much if not far more than the Obama Administration.

The criteria announced today, which include the unfortunate requirement that someone deemed non-violent and without a significant criminal background still waste ten years in prison before being considered for a clemency, was billed earlier this week by anonymous administration sources as a significant shift in policy. How many years it will end up shaving off for non-violent offenders wasting away in federal prisons will measure how significant the shift actually is for an administration not yet reaching Nixonian mercy.

The Supreme Court has upheld Michigan's ban on affirmative action in public colleges in a 6-2 decision on Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. The ban was implemented after the passage of Proposal 2, a 2006 ballot initiative banning public college's from giving preferential treatment to minority applicants. Justice Kagan was recused from the case, presumably because she worked on the case when she was U.S. solicitor general. Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg dissented.

Last year the the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in an  8-7 decision that Proposal 2 violated the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protections Clause.

New Hampshire, California, Florida, Washington, Arizona, Nebraska, and Oklahoma have similar bans on affirmative action in place.


NPR notes that in the majority opinion Justice Kennedy said:

Here, the principle that the consideration of race in admissions is permissible when certain conditions are met is not being challenged.

NPR also says that in reading her dissent from the bench Justice Sotomayor said:

without checks, democratically approved legislation can oppress minority groups.

The ruling will not come as a surprise to the Cato Institute's Ilya Shapiro, who said the following in October:

In no conceivable world can the Equal Protection Clause – the constitutional provision that bans racial discrimination – prohibit a state law that bans racial discrimination. The Supreme Court should and almost certainly will reverse the lower court's ridiculous judgment to the contrary, and will likely do so with a great degree of unanimity.

Writing at about the case for SCOTUS Blog University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein said that although he wouldn't have voted for Proposal 2, "Any public institution that employs either a colorblind or affirmative action policy within the institutions that it supports and operates should be responsive to the will of popular majorities in a democratic society." From SCOTUS Blog:

To repeat, I think that Proposal 2 is a mistake, and would vote against it.  But I do not think that we have reached the point where colorblind legislation should be regarded as unconstitutional because of its supposed effect on the political process.  Any public institution that employs either a colorblind or affirmative action policy within the institutions that it supports and operates should be responsive to the will of popular majorities in a democratic society.  Where the state loses its power is in its ability to force private institutions to follow what the public dictates.  I think the endless array of fair housing laws are indeed unconstitutional except in those situations, which almost never arise, where a credible claim can be made that a given party has monopoly power in some given market.  That was the older rule that used a nondiscrimination rule to offset monopoly power, but never otherwise.  It is a long argument, for another day.  Subject to this qualification, the public/private distinction should have some real bite.  I believe that this issue will come back to the Supreme Court in some form no matter how the Court comes out in Schuette.

In October, Reason Foundation's Shikha Dalmia wrote about how Michigan's Proposal 2 doesn't discriminate against racial minorities but rather discriminates "against racial discrimination." From USA Today:

Last November, however, the 6th Circuit Court ruled that this ban on discrimination was itself discriminatory. Why? Essentially, because it would require minorities who want preferential treatment to amend the Constitution. However, other groups — veterans, parents, firefighters — need only go through normal legislative channels to promote their interests. This "political restructuring" supposedly burdens the democratic rights of minorities and violates the 14th Amendment.

It's an interesting argument, but wrong. As University of San Diego law professor Gail Heriot notes, Prop. 2 doesn't discriminate against racial minorities but against racial discrimination. It doesn't just bar blacks from seeking special preferences in college admissions but whites, too. Each can, however, petition for, say, greater funding for sickle-cell anemia (which particularly afflicts blacks) or skin cancer (which disproportionately affects whites).

In other words, every racial group is equally encumbered when promoting racial privileges and equally unencumbered when promoting non-racial interests.

Dalmia has also noted that judges will never be able to eliminate affirmative action from higher education.

More from Reason on affirmative action here

Read the Court's opinion below:

If there were a vote, these guys would lose.Today the Obama administration announced another delay in deciding whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada through the United States until later in the year, possibly past the midterm elections.

The Hill notes a number of reasons for the delay:

Officials said they are stopping the clock on an assessment of the controversial project due to litigation in Nebraska over the pipeline's proposed route.

The department said it notified eight federal agencies engaged in the review that it would "provide more time for the submission of their views" on Keystone XL.

"Agencies need additional time based on the uncertainty created by the on-going litigation in the Nebraska Supreme Court which could ultimately affect the pipeline route in that state," the State Department said in a press release on Friday.

"In addition, during this time we will review and appropriately consider the unprecedented number of new public comments, approximately 2.5 million, received during the public comment period that closed on March 7, 2014," the agency said.

The administration's review was supposed to be completed by May.

The Nebraska lawsuit revolves around who in the state has the authority to authorize eminent domain to grab land to create the pipeline. The legislature passed a law giving the power to the state's governor. The judge ruled the state could not do that. From The Washington Post in February:

The Nebraska law struck down Wednesday allowed TransCanada to seek approval of the project from the state's elected five-member Public Service Commission or from [Gov. Dave] Heineman. After approving the route, Heineman gave the pipeline company power of eminent domain to acquire land. …

But [Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie] Stacy ruled that the state legislature could not pass such a law. "It is clear," she wrote, "the Legislature cannot . . . divest the PSC of jurisdiction over a class of common carriers and vest such power in another governmental agency, body of government, or branch of government, except the Legislature."

Most Americans want the Pipeline

Our most Reason-Rupe poll shows that a majority of Americans, 61 percent, support building the pipeline, despite the activism of environmentalists to halt it. A majority, 65 percent, think it will not impact President Barack Obama's favorability if he approves it. Reason's Emily Ekins notes:

Despite fervent opposition from the liberal wing of the president's party, 50 percent of Democrats favor approving the oil route while 43 percent oppose. However, Reason-Rupe's measure of ideological groups find that ideological liberals are opposed to the pipeline with 37 percent in favor and 57 percent opposed.

Republicans are most favorable of Keystone, by a margin of 82 to 13 percent. A majority (57 percent) of independents are also in favor, while 35 percent are opposed.

Today, diplomats from the European Union, Russia, the U.S., and Ukraine met in Geneva to discuss the crisis in Ukraine. After the meeting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that the parties had agreed to the following:

  • That all "illegal armed groups" in eastern Ukraine must immediately lay down their weapons.
  • That all "illegally seized buildings" in eastern Ukraine must immediately be returned to that nation's authorities.
  • That all protesters in eastern Ukraine, who have been pushing to join the Russian Federation, will be granted amnesty by the Ukrainian government unless they are judged to be guilty of capital offenses.

Background on pro-Russian activists in eastern Ukraine

On April 6 pro-Russian activists stormed government buildings in eastern Ukraine. The activists flew a Russian flag over a regional government building in Donetsk, which is in the same province ousted president Viktor Yanukovych comes from, and seized security offices in Luhansk, a city which lies about 15 miles to the west of the Russian border.

The next day pro-Russian activists in Donetsk declared an independent "people's republic" and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that the seizure of government buildings in eastern Ukraine was being organized by Russia in order to orchestrate an excuse for the sort of military intervention seen in Crimea.

Writing in Time magazine, Simon Shuster outlined why a Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine would be very different to the invasion of Crimea:

For one thing, Ukraine will defend itself. In February, when pro-Russian gunmen seized the Crimean parliament and installed a separatist leader, Ukraine did not have a central government capable of stopping them. The revolutionaries in Kiev, the capital, had only toppled the old regime a week before, and they were too busy deciding who would lead the nation to mount any defense of Crimea. The picture since then has changed. Ukraine’s institutions are functioning, and though the country’s economic affairs are hardly in order, it does have a police force and a military command structure to throw into the fight.

More from Shuster:

The demographics of eastern Ukraine also would not lend themselves to a secessionist referendum. According to the most recent census held in 2001, ethnic Ukrainians make up nearly 60% of the population in Donetsk and Luhansk, and more than 70% in Kharkiv, compared to only 24% in Crimea, where the majority are ethnic Russians. So it is hardly likely that a referendum in these eastern regions would result in a decision to break from Ukraine and join Russia, at least not by the overwhelming majority that was seen in Crimea last month.

More importantly, such a referendum could only be held if Russia first manages to occupy these regions, kick out the Ukrainian security forces and install a separatist government that could push ahead with a Crimean-style plebiscite under the gun. That would mean a Russian land invasion and, most likely, the start of a full-scale war that would cost many lives on both sides, pitting the armies of two fraternal nations against each other, nations that share ties of culture, religion, language and oftentimes blood.

Though Russia would surely win such a conflict, the conquered territory of east Ukraine would be much harder to defend.

Last week pro-Russian activists in eastern Ukraine ignored the Ukrainian government's demand to negotiate or face force, and two days ago Ukraine launched an "anti-terror operation" against the separatists. However, as The Guardian reported, Ukrainian troops were sometimes turned back by residents:

The situation has been repeated several times now across east Ukraine following Kiev's announcement of its anti-terrorist operation at the weekend: Ukrainian troops and their hardware are blocked by angry residents, who stop them in their tracks and convince them to turn round or even withdraw.

On Wednesday, pro-Russian militia captured six Ukrainian infantry fighting vehicles and, allegedly, 60 soldiers in Kramatorsk, driving them to nearby Slavyansk with a Russian flag flying.

The moment was a symbolic victory for pro-Russian forces in a conflict so far confined to isolated shootouts. Two people have been confirmed dead.

But defence experts in Kiev warned not to rule out the Ukraine government's "anti-terrorist" campaign, as the elite special forces designated to lead the operation had yet to see significant action. The troops most likely had orders not to attack civilians, they said.

The seizure of the six fighting vehicles was a huge black eye for Kiev, especially after some of the Ukrainian troops reportedly defected to the pro-Russian side.The acting defence minister, Mykhailo Koval, was on Wednesday on his way to east Ukraine.

Throughout the crisis in eastern Ukraine the Russians have been building up their military presence near the Ukrainian border. Yesterday NATO members agreed to increase its air patrols in the Baltics and deploy warships in response. This morning Putin said on live TV that he had the right to send troops into Ukraine but added that he hopes he won't have to do so:

"The people in the eastern regions have started arming themselves," Putin said in response to a question about the Ukrainian crisis. "And instead of realizing that something isn’t right in the Ukrainian state and moving toward a dialogue, [the government in Kiev] began threatening more force and even moved in tanks and planes against the peaceful population. This is yet another very serious crime of Ukraine’s current rulers." He then reminded viewers that the Russian parliament has given him approval to send troops into Ukraine. "I really hope that I’m won’t be forced to use that right," he says.

Jews ordered to register in Donetsk

Today it was reported by Ukrainian and Israeli media that Jews in Donetsk were being asked to "register" with separatists in the city. From USA Today:

Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city's Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee "or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated," reported Ynet News, Israel's largest news website.

Donetsk is the site of an "anti-terrorist" operation by the Ukraine government, which has moved military columns into the region to force out militants who are demanding a referendum be held on joining Russia. The news was carried first by the Ukraine's Donbass news agency.

John Kerry has confirmed that the leaflets were sent out and called the development "grotesque." The leaflets are signed by Denis Pushilin, chairman of Donetsk's government, who has denied any connection to their content. From Fox News:

Kerry's comments follow a report in Israel's Ynet News that a leaflet was circulating in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, demanding that Jews register -- as well as provide a list of property they own -- or else face deportation and revocation of citizenship. Pro-Russian activists have asserted partial control over some government buildings in that city.

Ynet reported that the notices, sent as the Passover holiday began, were signed by Denis Pushilin, chairman of Donetsk's temporary government -- though Ynet reports that Pushilin confirmed the flyers came from his organization, "but denied any connection to the leaflet's content."

Over at The New Republic, Julia Ioffe notes that the registration mentioned in the leaflets is not being enforced:

...the Jews of Donetsk and eastern Ukraine may have been asked by a leaflet to register, but it has not been enforced nor are any Ukrainian Jews registering themselves. If that changes, I'll be all over it, but so far, you can breathe easy. No Holocaust 2.0 just yet.

Ukrainian and Russian languages in Ukraine

Russian is spoken by many people in eastern Ukraine. Map of majority languages in Ukraine based on 2001 census data below. 

However, as Matthew Light, an assistant professor in the department of political science at the University of Toronto, and Maria Popova, an assistant professor in the department of political science at McGill University, point out, there are distinctions between Ukrainian and Russian speakers in Ukraine:

First, the overwhelming majority of Ukrainian citizens speak and understand both languages. Ukrainian- and Russian-speakers have lived in proximity for centuries. Many people slip back and forth easily between the two languages, and tell jokes and sing songs in both of them. Ukraine is the bilingual country Canada aspires to be.

Second, Ukraine’s civic identity does not depend primarily on language. Even among Ukrainians who prefer to speak Russian, only a minority consider themselves ethnic Russians. Many Russian-speakers proudly identify as Ukrainians. Indeed, while most Russian-speaking Ukrainians want cordial ties with Russia, most envision those ties as good neighborly relations, trade, cultural exchange, and free movement between two independent countries. Only minorities in the south (10 to 20 per cent of the population) and east (15 to 33 per cent) support either the unification of Russia and Ukraine or the annexation of their home region by Russia. Thus, support for separatism is actually lower in eastern and southern Ukraine than in Quebec. Surveys conducted in March show that only 15 per cent in the south and east support Russia’s seizure of Crimea. Even former president Viktor Yanukovych, a Moscow ally and a Donetsk native, has called on Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine.

Third, Ukraine’s current national unity problems are not the product of prior separatist conflict. Contrary to Russian claims, before the current protests in eastern Ukraine, the region was not showing signs of separatism. Eastern and southern Ukrainians accepted the legitimacy of Viktor Yushchenko, a president with a strong base in western Ukraine. Secessionist parties were marginal. The electorate participated eagerly in national elections. Politicians from the south and east vied for national power and made their careers on the national stage – former Presidents Leonid Kuchma and Mr. Yanukovych, and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko all hail from the east.

Reason on Ukraine

Steve Chapman on Obama and the appeasement myth

Yours truly on whether we are making too much of the east-west divide in Ukraine. 

Zenon Evans on the recent "anti-terror operation."

And much more

If you thought you were frustrated with filing your taxes recently this post will probably not help.

According to Marketplace the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which loses an estimated $300 billion due to tax evasion every year, is using data from social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in order to investigate those who don't file taxes or file suspicious returns.

From Marketplace:

We're all just trying to get through this time of year without losing our shirts and—of course—without getting audited. The IRS is kicking into high gear, too. Their goals are a bit different than ours, though. The agency is hoping to catch tax dodgers. It loses an estimated $300 billion a year to tax evasion, and getting that money isn’t getting easier. Because of budget cuts, the IRS will have fewer auditing agents than at any time since the 1980s.

Enter robots. After all, the IRS may not have a whole lot of money or manpower, but it has a gold mine of data on you. A lot of it from... well... you.

"It’s hard to believe that anybody who puts anything on Facebook has any legitimate expectation of privacy," says Edward Zelinsky, a professor of tax law at the Cordozo School of Law.

Those fancy vacation photos you posted on Instagram? The Facebook status update about your new car? The tweets about your wildly successful side business?

All fair game for the IRS.

This sort of social media mining is nothing new to the National Security Agency (NSA).

In September CNN reported on information leaked by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, which revealed that the intelligence agency was collecting social media data on American citizens. From CNN:

In addition to phone records and email logs, the National Security Agency uses Facebook and other social media profiles to create maps of social connections -- including those of American citizens.

The revelation was disclosed by the New York Times on Sunday, using documents provided to the newspaper by former government contractor Edward Snowden.

"We assume as Americans that if somebody in the government is looking at your information, it's because they have a reason, because you're suspected of a crime," Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, told CNN.

But the documents do not specify how many Americans' social connections have been analyzed, or whether any have been implicated in wrongdoing.

In February 2012 it was reported that the FBI was seeking the ability to scan social media sites for information.

From CBC News:

Hundreds of intelligence analysts already sift overseas Twitter and Facebook posts to track events such as the Arab Spring. But in a formal "request for information’’ from potential contractors, the FBI recently outlined its desire for a digital tool to scan the entire universe of social media — more data than humans could ever crunch.

The Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence also have solicited the private sector for ways to automate the process of identifying emerging threats and upheavals using the billions of posts people around the world share every day.

"Social media has emerged to be the first instance of communication about a crisis, trumping traditional first responders that included police, firefighters, EMT, and journalists,’’ the FBI wrote in its request. "Social media is rivaling 911 services in crisis response and reporting.’’

Yesterday FBI Director James Comey said that the agency can monitor the Internet without compromising privacy in order to tackle computer crime, "The Internet is a dangerous neighborhood. We need to be there to patrol it."

From The Post-Crescent:

FBI Director James Comey was in Milwaukee to visit local law enforcement officers as part of an effort to visit all 56 of the agency’s field offices. He met with reporters afterward, taking questions about FBI efforts to target violent crimes, stem the tide of heroin abuse and combat human trafficking.

He was also asked about cybersecurity issues, including the Target Corp. data breach and recent revealing of the Heartbleed glitch, which has caused major security concerns across the Internet. He was asked how the government balances fighting crime with respecting Americans’ liberty.

Comey said he rejected the idea that liberty and security can’t co-exist. He said security improves liberty by getting rid of people who would do harm, leaving more freedom for citizens who use the Internet for legitimate reasons.

The Internet is “where children play, it’s where our social lives are, it’s where our health care is, it’s where our money is. Everything is there — and so that’s where bad people come to get those things,” he said. “… The Internet is a dangerous neighborhood. We need to be there to patrol it. And by being there in a responsible, lawful, carefully overseen way, we can enhance both security and liberty.”

If the IRS' monitoring of social media doesn't have you angry enough, think about the fact that the agency is reportedly considering taxing free work perks such as gym memberships and food.

From Fox News:

In competitive job markets like Silicon Valley, companies are doing everything they can to entice the best and brightest -- offering freebies that have become the stuff of legend.

Employee perks like free food at lavish cafeterias, laundry and even yoga are not unheard of.

But the taxman could soon crack down.

The IRS reportedly is looking at these perks and seeing if these companies need to start paying up for the free stuff they offer employees.

David Gamage, a tax expert and professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said it would really boil down to who benefits from these perks.

"To what extent is this intended as a perk, a form of compensation, for the benefit of the employee, or to what extent is this just another way the employer gets the employee to work harder and longer and do things for the benefit of the employer?" he said.

If it's the latter, then it's harder for the IRS to tax it.

Reason on the IRS

Ed Krayewski looks at where our tax dollars go.

J.D. Tuccille praises tax scofflaws.

Emily Ekins writes about the Reason-Rupe Poll's finding that 76 percent of Americans think that charities would have spent their tax money as well or better than the government.

More from Reason on the IRS here.

It's the worst holiday in the universe. Even worse than Arbor Day. Today is the deadline for Americans to file their income taxes.

Reason has a selection of tax-related stories to angry up the blood today. Skim through our selection here.

But perhaps you'd like to chuckle ruefully instead over the terrible reality of America's dysfunctional tax systems. Let's start with Reason TV's videos for tax day. First, can the costs of caring for dragons be written off as a business expense if you use them to overthrow kingdoms?

Hey Cersei, remember you can still count Joffrey as a deduction for your 2013 filing. Maybe that will ease the sting a little bit. The Starks, though; they should probably file for an extension.

And here we have Remy slathering on the irony in a "Crappy" parody of Pharell's latest hit. Remember folks, taxes are the price we pay to live in a "civilized society" that has no earthly idea where the money is actually going:

In the category of "Isn't it funny how stupid Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is?" here's an old interview with him explaining how paying taxes is voluntary. Laugh to keep from screaming.

Online tax service E-file has a couple of pages listing weird and stupid taxes throughout history and across the world and unusual deductions and tax breaks people are able to claim. Want to know the circumstances where you can deduct a breast implant or apply depreciation to an ostrich? There you go.

Finally, according to the Tax Foundation, Americans won't actually earn enough money to pay for all the taxes the government demands of us until April 21, a week from today. Wait, that's not funny at all.

near bundy ranchOver the weekend, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced it would stop trying to enforce a court order against Cliven Bundy over grazing fees the agency says Bundy owes them. Cattle from the Bundy family ranch in Nevada, which has been in operation since the 1880s, graze on land claimed by the feds. The BLM confiscated some cattle, but may now reportedly share the revenue from selling that cattle with the Bundy family. Bundy threatened a “range war” over the issue.

Despite the BLM’s announcement, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told local TV station KRNV that the showdown wasn’t over. “We can't have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it,” said Reid. “So it’s not over.” How involved is Reid with the drama at the Bundy ranch? The Washington Times reports:

Speculation on Mr. Reid’s role in last week’s confrontation at the ranch has been rife, given his prominent position as Nevada’s elder statesman and his ties to BLM director Neil Kornze. 

Mr. Kornze, 35, served for eight years on the Senate leader’s staff before joining the BLM in 2011. He was the Mr. Reid’s pick to head the agency, and his final confirmation was April 8 as the roundup at the Bundy ranch was underway.

In an updated statement Saturday, Mr. Kornze said the cattle gather was halted “because of our grave concern about the safety of employees and members of the public.”

Mr. Reid also has been accused of attempting to shut down the ranch in order to move ahead with two nearby solar energy projects, an accusation denied Monday by the senator’s press aide.

Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman told KLAS-TV in Las Vegas that “there is no truth to the conspiracy theories that are being pushed by right-wing media outlets.”

Orthman’s attack on “right-wing media outlets” and “conspiracy theories” may be a case of the lady protesting too much. Politicians on both sides of the aisle often make money hand over fist because of their connections to the feds and the insider information they have access to.

Bundy argues the land his family uses for cattle grazing actually belongs to the state of Nevada, whose laws permit them to graze on it. The feds and their apologists argue the federal government owns the land, or is holding it in trust “for all of us.” Protesters who arrived to defend the Bundy family have declared victory, and the family hopes recent events may put pressure on a judge to rule in the state’s favor. Bundy says he’s now inspecting his cattle for possible damage by federal agents.

A raid on the ranch may still be being planned, according to the executive director of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.

The feds control vast swaths of land in the West. Here is a map that shows the proportion of land the feds own in each state:

who's land?

Earlier this month, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) said that many people who come to the U.S. illegally do so as "an act of love." Bush defended his comments a few days later saying, "You know, I’ve been saying this for the last three or four years, I said the exact same thing that I've said regularly."

In an interview that aired yesterday on ABC’s This Week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that Bush "might have been more artful, maybe, in the way he presented this, but I don’t want to say, 'Oh he’s terrible for saying this.'"

Paul went on to say, "If it were me, what I would have said is, 'People who seek the American dream are not bad people. … However, we can’t invite the whole world.' When you say they are doing an act of love and you don’t follow it up with 'but we have to control the border' people think 'well because they're doing this for kind reasons that the whole world can come to our country.'"

Watch a video of Paul’s comments below (immigration comments start at 1:57 mark).

Paul on Immigration

Paul mentioned border control in a June 2013 Politico op-ed while explaining why he would be voting "no" on immigration reform. From Politico:

I will be voting no on the Senate’s Gang of Eight immigration bill for one simple reason: because the legislation does not secure the border first.

The American people desperately need immigration reform. Unfortunately, this legislation does not do the job.

Of paramount concern is what to do with the 12 million people currently residing in the United States who are in legal limbo. No one is seriously contemplating they leave, but conservatives believe that normalizing their status should only follow serious efforts to secure the U.S.-Mexican border. And I’m sorry to say that the Gang of Eight’s proposal is just not serious.

In July 2013 Paul said that the Republican Party needs to "welcome" immigrants. From Politico:

The former Bowling Green ophthalmologist said that he could only support a reform measure that implements strict border security before – or at least simultaneous with – giving some legal status to undocumented immigrants.

"Because I am for immigration reform, because I am for finding a place in society for people, doesn’t mean I have to vote for a crummy bill," Paul said. "Really a lot of conservatives who are for immigration reform, like myself, just want Congress to be in charge of deciding whether the border is secure."

Paul has frustrated some Republicans during the immigration debate by consistently arguing in favor of reform at the conceptual level, but shying away from each of the compromise proposals that came up in Senate negotiations.

He took a dismissive tone Thursday toward the final deal that his colleagues in the so-called "Gang of Eight" hammered out, which involved steep increases in funding for a list of border security enhancements. "They just kind of went crazy at the end," Paul said.

Still, Paul’s pro-reform rhetoric is significant at a moment when many congressional Republicans are unsure whether they even want to try and pass a comprehensive overhaul.

Earlier this month Paul said that the Republican Party needs "to get beyond deportation" and that the future of the GOP depends on Republicans connecting with Hispanics. From Fox News Latino:

Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul told fellow Republicans on Tuesday that the future of their party depends on them connecting with Hispanics in a more empathetic way and on getting in front of immigration reform—a message that further signals his flirtation with a 2016 presidential run.

"If we are to change people’s attitudes toward … the Republican Party, we have to show up and we have to have something to say," Paul told a small group of conservatives gathered at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. "I hope to be part of that dialogue."

This certainly was not the first time that Paul, since being elected to the Senate in 2010, has attempted to connect with Hispanics and other minorities.

In the last presidential election only 27 percent of Latinos who voted backed Mitt Romney. Graph from the American Enterprise Institute below:

Reason Polling on Immigration

The Reaon-Rupe Poll found last year that 53 percent of Republicans and 28 percent of Democrats believe that immigration hurts the economy:

More from Reason on immigration here

Updated at the bottom with a response from the National Security Agency.

It’s possibly the biggest security vulnerability ever discovered on the Internet. It's known as "Heartbleed," a glitch in the very software used to provide basic encryption at hundreds of thousands of Internet sites allowed hackers to access the data the encryption was supposed to protect. The bug was disclosed earlier this week, and Internet users are encouraged to change all their passwords.

Today, Bloomberg reports that the National Security Agency has known about this glitch for at least two years and used it to gather intelligence, while keeping knowledge of the bug to itself.

What is Heartbleed?

CNet offers a primer and FAQ on what Heartbleed is and how it works, though it can get a little technical. The glitch allows a hacker to use a protocol used to keep communication open between an Internet connection and a server to collect additional data that is supposed to be kept secure through this very encryption process. This means data that users thought was being kept secure, symbolized by the little padlock symbol on their web browsers, was not secure at all.

Probably the best illustration of how the glitch works comes from nerdy online comic xkcd:

 Vox has nothing on xkcd for explaining stuff.

Sites have been scrambling to fix the glitch. You can visit a Heartbleed checker here to see if sites you use are still affected. (For those of you registered to comment on Reason, it says we are now safe, but recommends changing your password if you haven’t done so recently).

The NSA Knew and Said Nothing?

According to Bloomberg today, the NSA has known about the flaw and said nothing, even though it may have contributed to untold amounts of consumer fraud. And if other nations’ intelligence services knew, nations that perhaps want to infiltrate activists and political opponents, there’s no telling what they might have gotten:

The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.

The NSA’s decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the role of the government’s top computer experts. …

“It flies in the face of the agency’s comments that defense comes first,” said Jason Healey, director of the cyber statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council and a former Air Force cyber officer. “They are going to be completely shredded by the computer security community for this.”

Update: The NSA, in a tweet, responded to the Bloomberg story that it was unaware of the Heartbleed flaw until it was made public this week.

Here's a longer response from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence:

Reports that NSA or any other part of the government were aware of the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability before April 2014 are wrong. The Federal government was not aware of the recently identified vulnerability in OpenSSL until it was made public in a private sector cybersecurity report. The Federal government relies on OpenSSL to protect the privacy of users of government websites and other online services. This Administration takes seriously its responsibility to help maintain an open, interoperable, secure and reliable Internet. If the Federal government, including the intelligence community, had discovered this vulnerability prior to last week, it would have been disclosed to the community responsible for OpenSSL.

better days, or notFor months critics of Obamacare's disastrous October rollout insisted President Obama show he was serious about holding his underlings accountable by firing someone for messing up. He didn't. But now, six month later, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has submitted her resignation. She cited Obamacare's roll-out as the reason, displaying what it means to "move at the speed of government."

Although Sebelius' departure removes one prominent target for Obamacare critics, Reason's Peter Suderman notes it's not all, or not just, her fault:

Maybe—probably—Sebelius doesn't deserve all or even the majority of the blame for the administration's health law screw-ups. But regardless of her impact, as the most visible official associated with the law aside from President Obama, she deserved to be shown the door—or at least be given the opportunity to show herself out. 

Suderman notes that Sebelius was merely the face or "front person" for Obamacare, and while she may have been its "worst flack," others are to blame for the Obamacare disaster too. Most of them have escaped accountability. For example one official largely responsible for the administrative effort related to Obamacare was able to quietly leave for a cushy lobbying job in January.

Over at Time magazine, meanwhile, Reason's Nick Gillespie explains how Sebelius' incompetence helped fuel mistrust of government and skepticism about how much power it should wield. Sebelius famously compared her efforts to launch Obamacare to Apple's product launches. Despite the federal government spending more than $667 million on the design and implementation of Obamacare Sebelius claimed she had fewer resources than Apple for the Obamacare launch. Gillespie concludes:

Sebelius's abrupt resignation, then, is the fitting capstone of a cabinet tenure that did nothing to inspire feelings of competency and trust in government in a century that is so far replete with revelations of bipartisan secret surveillance, financial mismanagement of the nation, and failed foreign policy.

We deserved better than Kathleen Sebelius. And we should demand more from our public officials with the same vigor we do when buying, say, Apple products.

Gillespie also flagged the reaction of Ezra Klein, the columnist who is now heading, an effort at non-ideological "deep journalism." Here's Klein's explanation of why Sebelius, who said she was resigning because of the botched Obamacare rollout, actually resigned:

Obamacare has won. And that's why Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius can resign…

The evidence has piled up in recent weeks that the strategy worked. Obamacare's first year, despite a truly horrific start, was a success. More than 7 million people look to have signed up for health insurance through the exchanges. Millions more have signed up through Medicaid. And millions beyond that have signed up for insurance through their employers. isn't perfect, but it works. We don't yet know how many young people signed up in March, but it's clear that there are enough of them to keep premiums stable in 2015. It's clear that insurers are going to stick with the program in 2015, and compete hard to sign up next year's wave of young, healthy applicants.

The White House's announcement on who would replace Sebelius, Suderman noted, was also a veiled criticism of the outgoing health secretary:

Even the statement by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on her replacement, current Office of Management and Budget Chief Syliva Burwell, sounds more like a knife in the back than a fond farewell. "The president wants to make sure we have a proven manager and relentless implementer in the job over there, which is why he is going to nominate Sylvia," McDonough said on Thursday.

The clear implication here is that Sebelius was none of those things. And certainly, judging by last October's botched launch of the federal health insurance exchange, it's an easy and obvious judgment to make about her work for the administration.

The Wall Street Journal calls Burwell "one of the most experiences officials in Obama's White House" and reports that she's spent the last several months as budget office chief "trying to slowly repair frayed relations between the White House and congressional Republicans on tax and spending policy."